Reagan-era MTV Contest Madness
August 25, 2014 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Back in the 1980s, MTV ran some pretty wild contests. I found this story about the Lost Weekend With Van Halen, but there were many more. Does anyone have a complete list of those contests, or links to any more of the winners' stories?

Here's a clip for the One Night Stand w/Men At Work, and another for the Private Affair w/the Cars. Somebody won an entire town, which didn't end up quite as planned. Another person, if I remember correctly, won Axl Rose's NYC apartment. I'd love to know how more of those contests turned out for people, so post if you know. Thanks!
posted by ktoad to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a brief write up of what happened after the 'Paint the Mutha Pink' John Cougar Mellencamp contest. I believe either the Bloomington Heral Times or the Indiana Daily Student published something more about it in the last year or two, but I can't search while at work.
posted by amelioration at 8:36 AM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: Ooh, found a few more (be in a Loverboy video, Make a Madonna video, and win Jon Bon Jovi's house)
posted by ktoad at 9:10 AM on August 25, 2014

I'm not finding a link, but I specifically remember a "Win Your Own Radio Station" contest, where the prize was a low power AM station, in Georgia I think.
posted by COD at 9:27 AM on August 25, 2014

They had an ugly "I Hate My Miserable Life" contest--which seems to have been won by a very level-headed, cool person.
posted by blueberry at 9:54 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

"In 1987 alone, the network gave away a weekend in Jamaica with Bon Jovi,

subsidized a four-day Hollywood movie-mogul vacation with David Lee Roth complete with Beverly Hills mansion and on-call limo,

arranged a bicoastal Lear jet rally with Daryl Hall and John Oates,

and offered $5,000 in cash and a weeklong trip to Israel and Egypt with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

...Even the usually reticent Bruce Springsteen was part of an MTV contest in which the winner became a member of the Boss` road crew for a week."
--Sun-Sentinel, November 10th, 1987
posted by blueberry at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2014

The only one I clearly remember is the "Win a date with Prince"(link here) from '86. I remember because I was 13 and I had a huge crush on him. I got SO excited to enter until I read the fine print, about needing to be 18 or over.
posted by routergirl at 11:03 AM on August 25, 2014

Ah, and it was run by MTV.
posted by routergirl at 11:35 AM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: Excellent answers so far! That Prince article in People has some funny stuff in it:
Others, less enthralled, could be found at the coffee counter in Ritz Sporting Goods, where rancher Dugan Wragge noted, "This town's known for fishing lures. We don't care about no boy who wears tight pants and struts around like a woman." Ventured another customer: "I'm going to paint a fence. If Prince wants to help me, that's fine." A third recalled that when he first learned of Prince's impending arrival, it set him to thinking about a visit Queen Elizabeth made to Sheridan in 1984 to look at equestrian stock: "I told my wife, 'This is real nice. First his mother, and now him.' "
posted by ktoad at 11:58 AM on August 25, 2014

I vividly remember MTV trying to give away a town. This article indicates that it was on December 31, 1986. No idea what happened with it.

(From the article, the realtor says: "It`s a pretty tract. About half of it`s farmland, and half is pasture.")

[ETA: of course, you mentioned it in the post. Nevermind!!]
posted by China Grover at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2014

In 1987 MTV gave away a plane and flying lessons in support of Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly album.
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:58 PM on August 25, 2014

Do the Road Crew
posted by bink at 8:43 PM on August 25, 2014

I totally forgot about this one: MTV gave away a trailer park in Texas. Texas Trailer Park Hoedown with INXS. Here's a story about two of the finalists' experience (they didn't ultimately win the trailer park)
posted by SisterHavana at 1:00 PM on August 26, 2014

There's a lot of stuff about the contests in this book about MTV. You can read at least some it in the Google Books preview.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:23 PM on August 26, 2014

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